The Rogue Waves, St. Olaf’s women’s club water polo team, had a very busy weekend. In an at-home tournament on Saturday, March 5 and Sunday, March 6, the Waves took on teams visiting from Grinnell, Knox, and Carleton colleges.
I caught the Saturday afternoon match versus Grinnell. Aside from glimpses of Olympic water polo on TV, this was my very first time watching the sport. From my vantage point in the Skoglund natatorium bleachers, I was awestruck by the fast-paced game. I was particularly impressed by the coordination of the players. While constantly swimming and treading water, they moved the ball up and down the pool, setting up swift passes and skillful shots on goal. Talk about multitasking!
To learn more about water polo from a player’s perspective, I sat down with Rogue Waves’ player Zoe Fallgatter ’25. An avid swimmer in high school, Fallgatter joined the Waves this past fall as a way of continuing her love of being in the water. The teamwork aspect of water polo was particularly appealing to her, given the more individual nature of competitive swimming.
“The basis of water polo is that it’s a mixture of soccer, swimming, and hockey rules-wise,” Fallgatter said. Each team is allowed thirty-five seconds per offensive possession, and if they don’t succeed in making a shot on net during that time frame, possession is given to the opposing team. While the general nature of play resembles soccer, the penalties—usually given out for excessive roughness—might remind spectators of hockey.
Of the Rogue Waves’ stellar tournament performance, Fallgatter cited the team’s increasing chemistry. “Compared to the fall,” she said, “we know each other better and there’s more cohesiveness. The new people, including me, are more confident, so that made a big difference.” This cohesiveness was evident as the Waves netted eight beautiful goals against the previous tournament champion Grinnell, the Oles trailing by only one goal at the final buzzer. Earlier that morning, the team outscored Carleton with a score of thirteen goals to one.
Oles can catch the Rogue Waves at their next tournament, set to take place at Carleton College on April 9 and 10. They can also get involved in the action themselves. “If people want to come try water polo,” Fallgatter added, “they’re more than welcome! Some people joined the team and they weren’t even swimmers previously.”
As the Minnesota winter begins to relent and teams of talented Oles take the fields, tracks, courts, and pools by storm, I encourage you to gather your friends, dress in your favorite black and gold apparel, and fill the stands in support. As you choose between St. Olaf’s impressive list of varsity, club, and intramural sports to watch, consider opting for one that you’ve never seen (or heard of) before. Who knows—you might find yourself to be the sport’s newest fan, or even on the roster next season!